The Spectre M4 was a submachine gun of Italian origin and presented a highly compact automatic weapon system intended for use by military, law enforcement and security personnel. The weapon became the poster child of the Assault Weapons Ban movement in the United States during the 1990s which limited its civilian market reach while going on to see circulation with a handful of special forces elements, police units and security firms. While production is no longer ongoing, the type retains a presence(albeit limited) in the world today (2013) - proving popular with concerns relying on voluminous point firepower in a compact, high-portable form.
Design of Spectre was attributed to Italian gunsmiths Roberto Teppa and Claudio Gritti and their work spanned the early part of the 1980s to which serial production commenced in 1984 under the SITES S.p.A. (Societa Italiana Tecnologie Speciali, S.p.A.) brand label based out of Turin, Italy. Manufacture continued into 2001. Despite its promising nature, the Spectre was only ever notably procured in number by Italian special forces and the Swiss Army. SITES went defunct in 1997 to which manufacture of future Spectres fell to Gritti's Greco Sport S.A. label of Switzerland.
Outwardly, the Spectre was given a very clean, if futuristic, design with a noticeably short receiver, integrated pistol grip unit and straight proprietary magazine. The forend featured four large slots to each side for proper heat dissipation with the internal bolt assembly used as part of a "forced-draft" system, pumping in cooler air into and around the barrel. The forend covered the entire section of barrel usually partially exposed on other submachine gun designs. An optional forward vertical grip could be added under the forend for the support hand. The pistol grip was slung under the rear portion of the stamped-steel receiver in the usual way with a large trigger loop designed for a gloved hand. The charging handle was set to the left side of the body with the ejection port fitted along the right. Magazines were inserted into the awaiting well positioned just ahead of the trigger group. A collapsible wire stock (with included butt) was positioned over the receiver, hinged along one end. When folded over, the stock sat cleanly against the weapon to promote a most compact form. When extended, the weapon could be used in a traditional three-point hold. Iron sights were affixed to the front and rear for relatively accurized shooting up to medium-short ranges though the weapon was almost exclusively intended for close-quarters battle. It provided military, security and police elements with automatic firepower coupled with the lethal man-stopping capabilities of the 9mm pistol cartridge within a very portable frame.
The Spectre was originally designed for the widely-accepted 9x19 Parabellum cartridge though it was later available in forms chambered for the 9x21mm IMI, .40 S&W and .45 ACP rounds. The action was of blowback with a closed-bolt making it one of the only "double-action" submachine guns to ever reach the market. A selector switch was fitted along the left side of the gun body and allowed for semi- and full-automatic fire modes. Rate-of-fire was listed at a handy 850 rounds per minute with an effective range within 500 feet. The standard magazine was an in-house-designed 50-round count version arranged in an unconventional four-column configuration which allowed for a more manageable magazine length to be used. The same magazine length was then available in a 30-round count. Civilian-minded versions were restricted to 5-, 10- and 15-round counts for obvious reasons. Overall weight of the weapon was 3 kilograms with a running length (stock extended) of 22.8 inches and a compact length of 13.8 inches.
To go along with its security-minded design, the Spectre was afforded a special "decocking" feature which permitted a cartridge to be relatively safely chambered, being ready-to-fire, and allowing for near-instant response times from operators managing the weapon. Because of its inherent double-action functionality, the Spectre did not require the weapon to be formally cocked in the normal way prior to firing if cocking lever was managed going into action.
As mentioned, Civilian-minded Spectres had their ammunition counts restricted and were further limited to semi-automatic fire.